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8 September 2003
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Korea Life Blog - English Village

According to a recent Hong Kong based study, Koreans (surprise) are found to be least capable in spoken English ability among their counterparts in 12 Asian countries, including Malaysia, Vietnam and Japan. This comes despite the fact that Koreans spent $4.6 billion last year overseas education.

This study was pointed out in an article in theKorea Herald today discussing the creation of an "English Village" in Paju, a border city in Gyeong-gi privince, northwest of Seoul.

Cited as the first of its kind in Korea, the experimental village project aims to create an authentic Western setting with all its buildings, amenities and even daily necessities in Western styles and designs.

"It will be a self-sufficient community where participants are required to speak English when in class, engaged in sports activities, or buying necessities," Lee explained. "Without leaving the country, the kids will feel like they are in a foreign country," said Lee Moo-kwang, managing director of the Gyeonggi English Culture Foundation in a recent interview with The Korea Herald...

In this regard, the foundation is seeking to attract overseas branches of teachers of English to speakers of other languages divisions, affiliated with top universities in the United States and elsewhere, in a win-win strategy for the TESOL candidates as well as Korean students.

Often big projects like this for improving English are announced but then are never heard about again. (Whatever happened to that plan announced last year to hire several foreigners for every school in the country at 3,000,000 Won/month and nice new single apartments?) However, if this is true, I can't wait until 2006 when the project is scheduled to be completed to see what exactly this "English Village" looks like (with all of it's western buildings, amenities, and even daily necessities!?) Perhaps, having a degree in English education but no TESOL certificate, and certainly not affiliated with any top university in the US, I can get a job at the local Burger King taking orders in English with all a regular native teacher's pay and benfits!

I just wonder what will happen if a student is unable to speak English well enough to buy toilet paper at the local Walmart. And I'm curious as to how western necessities differ from Korean necessities. Does that mean my drinking water will come out of a tap instead of a bottle? Will pencils have erasers on the end? Will eggs be white instead of brown? Will there be a proper place to put my garbage? Don't tell me I can't buy kimchi?!

Anyone have any comments about this magical English Village?


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